Most men and women experience a sexual problem at some time in their lives. Some problems, such as decreased sex drive and pain during intercourse, may be experienced by either partner, while others, such as erectile dysfunction and vaginismus, are specific to men or women. Sexual problems have many causes, including physical and psychological disorders and certain drug treatments.
The most common sexual problem that affects both sexes is decreased sex drive. This is often a natural response to changing hormone levels, although there are many other causes. Other common problems include failure of orgasm in women, and, in men, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, which affect most men at some time. A sexual problem may begin with an underlying physical cause, but anxiety about sexual performance can often develop and compound the original problem. Sometimes, a sexual problem experienced by one partner may be caused by the response or behaviour of the other partner. For these reasons, doctors and sex therapists often prefer to involve both partners in discussions and therapy sessions to promote mutual understanding and appreciation. This is particularly important when the recommended treatment involves exercises to be practised at home by both partners.
A variety of treatments is currently available, and there are many doctors and therapists who specialize in treating sexual problems. Sources of specialized help include urologists, gynaecologists, sex therapists, and counsellors. For some problems, assistance from a psychiatrist or psychologist may be helpful. Treatments for sexual problems have a high success rate.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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